Oxford Jewish Thought

Lectures, essays, questions & articles

by Rabbi Eli Brackman

The concept of the Sefirot

The concept of the Sefirot


The nature of the Kabbalah is by definition esoteric and concealed. According to Jewish teaching there are four levels of the Torah, the plain (pshat), allegorical (remez), exegesis (drush) and esoteric (sod). The deepest level of sod, which means secrets, is the Kabbalah. This allows to read the scripture of the Torah and have no interaction with the esoteric, as it is concealed.


The same is true regarding the Jewish prayer book with which one can have a very meaningful experience of prayer without necessarily delving in to the deeper mystical aspects of the prayer book.


However, there are a number of prayers included in the prayer book which openly alludes to the e… Read More »

An overview of Freud & Jewish interpretations of dreams

The theory of dreams has been a very intriguing and mysterious subject since time immemorial, concerning which there are still many divergent opinions. Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939) described dreams as ‘the royal road to the activities of the unconscious mind’. Earlier Freud explained dreams as wish fulfilment or instincts. He also believed that some dreams are not necessarily products of the dynamic unconscious but simply the products of recent experience.


The common denominator in Freud’s theories is that dreams reflect nothing but the self.


This is in contrast to the Jewish view of dreams expressed in the Talmud that dreams can have a particular objective meaning that can be interpreted… Read More »

Looking for older posts? See the sidebar for the Archive.